Paulogia responds to Andrew Loke on the resurrection of Jesus

@Andrew_Loke

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I saw that. I’m curious to see what Andrew says, why it is that Joshua McDowell is “vs” him. Can anyone explain that to me?

If I recall, McDowell has said in the past (I think in the past year?) that the martyrdom argument has been oversold in terms of how many disciples we can be confident were martyred and why and how much work that does to attest to the truth of their claims. I think that was on Unbelievable between him and Paulogia.

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Well McDowell himself approved of how I explained it here:

It’s Sean McDowell that Paulogia is using video of to impeach Loke’s views. The piece is from 11:50 to 13:30 approximately.

I was discussing Sean McDowell too. But I did miswrite it!

Well I think it matters if well-respected Christian scholars and historians have significant disagreements about the basis for certain apologetics claims. It becomes that much more difficult to just dismiss such disagreements as the product of some sort of irrational skepticism or bias against Christianity.

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I agree. But what exactly is the disagrement?

Sean doesn’t think all martry arguments are overblown. He states that it is possible that not all the disciples (excluding John) were martyred, contra what many apologists claim. However, Sean also emphasizes that it really seems that all of them were willing to be martyred, and many actually were martyred. In his view, that remains a very important historical point to grapple, even if apologists have overstated it in the past.

This is how I summarized it in my article, to his approval:

After Jesus’ violent death, His followers were frightened and scattered. Then, something happened that grew a strong, bold, and confident belief that resisted sustained, murderous opposition. Unlike other movements with executed leaders, once they came back together they did not replace Jesus with one of his family members. Their resistance was entirely non-violent and devoid of political power. Yet they were all suddenly willing to die for what they saw. What changed them? Why was there not evidence at the time to undermine their belief?[7] What convinced them that Jesus was inconceivably greater than his family?

  1. The Fate of the Apostles: Examining the Martyrdom Accounts of the Closest Followers of Jesus by Sean McDowell (London: Routledge, 2015) is most complete historic account of their confidence. Apparently, not all died for their faith, but it appears all were willing to die.

So Sean doesn’t think that all the martyr evidence are invalid, but that this evidence is strong, but it has been overstated.

So the key questions are:

  1. Did @Andrew_Loke overstate the evidence? If not, then Sean is not disagreeing with him.

  2. If @Andrew_Loke did overstate the evidence, does correcting the overstatement substantially undermine overall argument? I don’t think Sean would say this matters much.

  3. If @Andrew_Loke did overstate the evidence, will he acknowledge and correct it? That goes to character, and it is an important question. I think he would. But this moot if not #1.

So did @Andrew_Loke overstate the evidence? I don’t recall him doing this on this point. But perhaps he or someone else can clarify what precisely was his claims. Until that is clarified, it seems pretty overblown to say that it is @Andrew_Loke vs. Sean McDowell.

And yet he says “Of the twelve, there’s only two that we have very high confidence died historically speaking. And that’s Peter, and James the brother of eh, of John, James the son of Zebedee. The others I’m not even sure we can know at all what history is or where legend begins.”

No, that really does appear to be the case. I mean, watch the video to see what Andrew says, and then compare it to what those other scholars say. I can’t be bothered transcribing the entire video here, but pretending there’s no conflict here is delusional.

Yes, I don’t think that’s in contradiction with what I recall Sean having said.

Paulogia has pointed out before that in order to differentiate the truth value of the claims of Christian martyrs from that of those of other religions, they would need to be eyewitnesses who were both willing to die, and died specifically for their claims of the resurrection (i.e given the chance to recant). His view is that the first two are readily granted, but the third is not so clear.

I’ll have to listen to the video again to hear Loke’s wording on it, but I think it would be both #1 and #2. During Sean and Paulogia’s discussion, Sean acknowledged the shortcomings in the argument Paul brought up, but it was his view Paul was being overly skeptical. I think it’s because of this fundamental disagreement that although everyone involved may agree on the evidence (or at least Paul and Sean—again, I’d have to hear Loke’s particular wording), they would not agree on how that affects the argument, rendering #3 moot.

That’s my understanding.

Paulogia’s specific point is that, if one wants to argue that there were people who believed they had directly witnessed the resurrected Jesus and who were then martyred for refusing to renounce this belief, we need good evidence of:

  1. Specific individuals who believed they had directly witnessed the resurrected Jesus and

  2. That at least some of these individuals were martyred for refusing to renounce this belief.

His position is that this evidence is lacking.

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And Sean’s position, I’m nearly certain, that we have very strong evidence this is what happened for some of the disciples, but not ALL of them, as many apologists have wrongly claimed.

I’ll ping him about this to be sure I’m not misunderstanding his position…

On the video he states rather more than that, that there were “only two that we have very high confidence died historically speaking”.

That is consistent with what I meant, and how I understood Sean.

I highly doubt that is true, given that we have very scant historical data on even the slightest details of their lives. Or am I wrong about that?

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The point is that the fewer the number that can be shown to have died, down to “only two”, Peter and James brother of John, with “very high confidence”, the weaker the basis this gives to the claim that “they were all suddenly willing to die for what they saw.” And so the weaker the Martyrdom Defense of the Resurrection becomes.

This admission is well below the implication of “it is possible that not all the disciples (excluding John) were martyred” (which implies that most but maybe not all of them were martyred).

I would note that according to Tactitus the Christians (including Peter) died as a scapegoat for the Great Fire of Rome, not “for what [he] saw”.

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As far as I can tell, the evidence for the specific situation I described is at best negligible. Am I right?

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I watched Paulogia’s video and am amazed at the number of bad arguments in the video, and am even more amazed at the number of people (e.g. youtube commentators, and perhaps some people here?) who seem to agree with him and who ‘liked’ that video (that video already has >2000 likes).

I will be giving a fuller response to him at a later date (busy now finishing up my book on the Teleological and Kalam arguments). At this point I just want to clarify that there is no contradiction between what I said and what Sean McDowell wrote:

I said in 11:35: the early Christians were prepared to give up their lives for their faith…12:27: people would not be willing to sacrifice for what they knew is false…’

This is consistent with what Sean McDowell wrote (The Fate of the Apostles, p. 259):

‘The critical point is not that we might establish the martyrdom of all the apostles; rather, their willingness to suffer and die for their firsthand witness of the risen Jesus—this is of foremost importance.
p.260: ‘While people are willing to die for what they believe is true, it is a stretch to think all the apostles were willing to suffer and die for a claim they knew was false.
p.2: In fact, we do have reliable historical evidence to trust the ancient and uniform testimony that (1) all the apostles were willing to die for their faith, and (2) a number of them actually did experience martyrdom.

Paulogia did not listen carefully to what I said. He also did not read carefully what I wrote in Chapter 3 of my book where I cited Sean and made arguments that are similar to Sean’s. It is therefore a misrepresentation to pit me vs Sean.

Paulogia also misrepresented me when he claimed (33:50) that I ‘flagrantly disregarded false memory.’ On the contrary, I discussed the false memory objection in Chapter 7 of my book which Paulogia disregarded!

There are other bad arguments in Paulogia’s video which I will respond to at a later date. At this point I just want to encourage people to read my book carefully (it is open access!) rather than merely listening to Paulogia’s (mis)representation of it. Most of his objections are already answered in my book.

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Yes Andrew, you made that same claim to me in your last thread. However the thread was closed immediately after you posted so I could not reply.

You stated:

As I explained in Chapter 3 page 70: ‘it should be noted that it is not required for the objector of the no experience hypothesis to show that these disciples did die for their faith, but that they were willing to suffer and die for their faith. Their genuine willingness to give up everything and die for their faith can be inferred from the following considerations….(read pages 70-73).

I looked through that passage. It was mostly about persecution, not martyrdom (I note that you and Sean seem to use the phrase “suffer and die” a lot, when it is mostly suffering, and almost no dying – somewhat misleading).

On martyrdom all you present is:

  1. Paul’s claim that “I face death every day” – obvious hyperbole.

  2. The martyrdom of Peter, which, if Tacitus is to be believed, was as part of a group of convenient scapegoats, rather than because of his witness.

  3. James, the brother of Jesus, who Sean McDowell does not include in his short list of those Sean McDowell has “very high confidence” were martyred.

  4. James the Apostle.

This is thin evidence of a general willingness to die. As to willingness to suffer and endure persecution, this is hardly uncommon in history, so hardly worthy of any especial note, or especial weight to their witness.

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I’m not sure what “specific situation I described” you’re talking about. However, details surrounding martyrdoms do generally appear to be scant.

For example all that we’re told about the martydom of James the Great is “[King Herod] had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.” Even the tradition around this is distinctly odd – with James receiving a vision whilst preaching in Spain (whose patron saint he is), so had to hurry back to Jerusalem in order to be martyred there (which sounds like something I could see Sir Terry Pratchett writing).

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